PARIS (Reuters) - 'If at first you don't succeed try, try, try again' could be David Ferrer's personal motto after the Spaniard reached his maiden grand slam final on Friday at his 42nd tilt at a major.
Since tennis turned professional in 1968, the previous longest wait for a player who eventually reached a grand slam final was Kim Warwick's 32 majors after he fought his way into the Australian Open title match in 1980.
In addition, fourth seed Ferrer, who beat France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 7-6(3) 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a meeting with Rafael Nadal, avoided emulating Briton Tim Henman's six grand slam semis without making the final.
"It's a dream for me to be in a grand slam final, and Roland Garros is more important for me," Ferrer told a news conference.
Having stalled five times at the penultimate hurdle, Ferrer managed to stay composed despite having to wait until the end of Nadal's match against Novak Djokovic, which lasted four hours 37 minutes.
"I thought that maybe we would not be able to finish the match," Ferrer said.
"But I was quite calm, very focused on my match. I knew that it was a very important match for me, and it didn't matter if we could not finish it tonight. I was just focused on my match."
Ferrer will find it hard, though, to go a step further, as he has lost his last 16 meetings on clay against Nadal.
"Defeating Rafa is very difficult on any surface - it's even worse on clay," he said.
"But once again, I'm going to try to play a beautiful match. I don't want to think of whether it's the occasion, the opportunity of my life, if it's a dream.
"If you start thinking like that, it's not very positive."
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alison Wildey